Ancient Art International

Early Islamic Animal Head Oil Lamp

Item Number: 745
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Circa 5th - 8th CE
4" (11 cm)
Baked Terracotta
Excellent, some encrustation covering the animal headed handle could probably be removed
Holy Land
Acquired by the present owner in Tel Aviv in 9/1971


A very rare late Byzantine to early Islamic animal headed baked terracotta oil lamp which some believe to be clay copies of bronze lamps. There is an extremely schematic depiction of the head of an animal on the top of the handle. There is a symbol where the handle is attached to the body. Lamps of this type have been discovered in Jerash, bearing an inscription in Arabic stating dates from the eighth century, the name of the potter (?), and Jerash as the place of manufacture. We also know of a lamp of this type which bears a Christian inscription, similar to the Byzantine lamps. Ref. "Oil Lamps from Erete Israel", the Louis & Carmen Warshaw Collection at the Israel Museum.

Bagatti (1970) further stated that the lamps were introduced by the Persians in 614-630 CE, since the horse's heads suggested a relationship with the Luristan bronzes. Inscriptions show that they were in use at least until the middle of the eighth century CE." QEDEM "Monograph of the Institute of Archaeology, Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection."

Accompanied by copies of pages from reference works.

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